Progressive Era Essay Thesis Examples

Progressive Era: Political and Social Reforms

Many economic and social changes transformed the American society in the 20th century, including innovations in technology, science, living standards, mass communication, entertainment, gender roles and the role of the government. At the time of the Progressive Era (1900-1920), the leading reformers in the USA were looking for the solutions of the issues effected by the Industrial Revolution and growth of capitalism. They believed that the changes were essential for the creation of a new order fitting the industrial age.

One of the most substantial goals of Progressivism was to make the Government much more competent and quick to react and allow the public to take active part in the political processes. Progressives desired to introduce these changes with the help of different political reforms. Among the reforms was the preliminary election that allowed the party members to engage in the nomination. Its purpose was to restrict the regulation of political machines when choosing the candidates. Among other reforms were referendums, or voting on an initiative, giving people an opportunity to execute legislation that the governmental body is not able or unwilling to do; and recall, a procedure that allowed the residents to abolish elected officials with voting or petitions. These reforms are known as the Wisconsin Ideas, as they were introduced for the first time in Wisconsin and became the standard for other cities in the country.

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The Progressive Era witnessed the rise of the public control of gas, electricity, water; municipally owned utilities suggested people smaller rates than the private organizations. Private utilities were under the jurisdiction of commissions that inspected rates, unions and various business operations. The railroads and the transportation systems in cities were regulated in a similar way. Progressives were excited by the scientific management, that’s why the reforms were conducted not only in the political sphere but in social life as well. The anti-alcohol campaign had a little progress with the formation of Anti-Saloon League in 1893. This organization was aimed at prohibiting alcohol rather than persuading people not to drink. It was supported by the Protestant churches, and by 1917 about two-thirds of the states prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcohol. In December 1917, Congress ratified the Eighteenth Amendment that banned the produce of alcohol, its sale and transportation worldwide.

The National Child Labor Committee organized a campaign aimed at stopping the children exploitation. The photographs taken by Lewis Hine were the most efficient weapon in this movement. They showed young girls and boys working with the unsafe instruments in plants and mines. In 1910, most states established the minimum working age (between 12 and 16) and the maximum length of a workday. Besides, progressives aimed to limit the workday of women as the long hours in the factories affected their health. The Supreme Court agreed with that and limited the working day of the women laundry workers to no more than 10 hours a day. In 1911, there was a terrible accident in New York. More than 150 people died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire. In result, the New York State legislature established a 54-hour workweek for women and developed safety rules at factories. Although the limiting of women workday showed that they were weaker than men, women finally received the right to vote. The Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution that gave that right was confirmed by all states in 1920.

The Progressive Era was the age of reforms in various spheres, it was a response to the Industrial Revolution. It influenced almost all Americans and reorganized the role of government in the society. The movement succeeded as it had great support from Democrats and Republicans, American middle class, labor and management leaders. The Progressive Era was a hopeful time with the progressive mood that laid the ground for future reforms in different spheres.

THESIS: The goals of progressivism and how Roosevelt and Wilson implemented change Progressivism A. Causes for Progressive Movement  significant changes/challenges in industrialization (working conditions / monopolies)  urbanization  immigration what  effort to use government power to regulate and improve society  improving capitalism and rejected lassie fair who  politicians, immigrants, union labor leaders, muckrakers, women, Urban reform  slums, poor living and working conditions -rooted in the Greenback Labor Party/Populist Party-largely focused on urban problem during TR --fueled by reality that social and economic problems of 20th century c. were too complex for 18th century c. Jeffersonian-sytle solution to problems -born of desire to crusade against evils of monopoly, corruption, inefficiency, and social injustice of the era-desired to strengthen the state using the government as an agency of human welfare-believed government should be used to ameliorate social problems-wanted to use governmental power to regulate industrial production and improve labor conditions-argued cooperation offers best way to improve society Goals:-Democratization of political process o Senators be elected by popular vote ( 17th amendment )  municipal government reform- taking power away from political bosses and placing it under elected officials -reform of local governments o 16 th amendment gave congress the power to tax and collect income taxes-Australian Ballot : secret voting-primary ballot : voting directly -referendum : direct vote on laws -recall : elected politicians can be removed my voters-initiative : voters introduce laws -Wanted regulation of big business o Passage of child labor laws  triangle shirtwaist fire

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